I am sitting in an office in Jerusalem as I write this piece about Israel’s attack on Gaza.
But I want to be clear that I have no more insight into the crisis than if I were sitting in my condo in Chicago looking at the snow. The only difference is I spend my day with Israelis, but life here, in Jerusalem, is normal and seemingly safe.
A coworker and I joked yesterday that if he gets called up to the reserves, he will be getting shot at as I phone him for directions to get from one place to another. (This is my first time driving in Israel.)
“Sharna, this is kind of bad time,” he joked holding his phone to his ear.
“But I can’t figure out how to get to this hotel in Talpiyot; it will only take a minute.”
Today’s news is focusing on the rising death toll in Gaza and the outrage of the Arab population against the Arab League that has not met about the attacks. Also in the Jordanian parliament a member lit an Israeli flag on fire and then stepped on it to put out the fire. (smart guy! He could have burned down the fake parliament. If a fake parliament burns, does anyone smell it?)
Perhaps I am being too glib in the wake of this humanitarian catastrophe. But how can I be anything else when this situation was predictable six months ago when the Egyptians negotiated the so called cease fire otherwise known as time to amass weapons for Hamas and time for Israel to spy from the air where Hamas is amassing the weapons? Or the cease fire where Hamas was firing rockets into towns in southern Israel as the Israelis in Southern Israel are terrified and furious with its government for not caring about them or as the song here says, “coffee at home in Tel Aviv, rockets at home in the South.”
This situation is a failure of the international community and of the Arab League, not to mention the power vacuum in Washington. Indeed, the populace of Arab states should be angry about the situation in Gaza. However, their viciousness is misguided as it is fueled by hatred of Israel, Anti Semitism and Anti Americanism. Their message gets lost in their burning effigies.
What they should be angry about is that during this cease fire the nations of the Arab League and the International Community should have been bettering the lives of the Gazans through building of schools, hospitals, industry, etc. instead of twiddling their thumbs awaiting the cease fire to break and all hell to break loose. Instead the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is some strange pawn in an International game where Israelis and many, many Palestinians end up being the big losers.
Remember, Egypt has a border with Gaza. It’s not Israel’s (sole) responsibility to help Gaza (who elected a government – Hamas - that doesn’t recognize Israel’s existence and tosses rockets into its southern cities to rebuild its infrastructure. Arab governments could have been smuggling in supplies and blockaded the Iranian weaponry.
This conflict serves Arab governments in many ways: it raises the cost of oil, it provides a bargaining chip for Arab governments in terms of its relationships with the Security Council, and perhaps mostly importantly, when Israel attacks Gaza it serves as a distraction from their own countries’ failings and demonizes the Jewish state in the eyes of the media and the international community.